For Whom Will You Not Be Silent?
Isaiah cries: “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet. . .” While contemplative silence is needed in this noisy world, there are times when remaining silent can be a betrayal. In our time, Dietrich Bonhoeffer agreed: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
In a new biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, author David Blight quotes Douglass in 1893, at the beginning of the Jim Crow and lynching period: “We have one weapon unimpaired and it is that weapon of speech, and not to use it. . .is treason to the oppressed.”
Recently, with the opening of the 116th Congress on January 2nd, over 100 women were sworn in, the most in our history though still not a number equal to men. Many women acknowledged their debt of gratitude to women on whose shoulders they stood, 100 years after women in the U.S. won the right to vote. If the suffragettes and their male supporters had not spoken out, marched, and demanded the legitimate right of women as members of a free society, if they had waited for men in power to introduce the 19th Amendment, when would all of us women reading this reflection been “given” the right to vote? We might also ask ourselves when will women in the church, the People of God we love and in which we have done heavy lifting for many years, when will our voices be included in decision-making at all levels?
In this week’s Gospel, the Wedding at Cana, it is Jesus, of course, who changes water to fine wine, but Mary is in command. John first notes that she was there, and, by the way, Jesus and his disciples were also invited. It is Mary who notices that the wine was running out, and simply tells Jesus, “They have no wine.” At first, this does not seem important to Jesus, but he has been obedient to his mother for enough years to respect her wisdom and understanding, so he does as she requests. As a wife and mother, Mary understands that what may have appeared not significant enough for a miracle could have been a humiliating disaster for a couple on their wedding day. So she did not remain silent.
Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director